Blink-182 have returned with their first single to feature Alkaline Trio man Matt Skiba – and Bored To Death might be the most honest title they’ve ever tagged onto one of their songs.
If this song was any more vanilla, they could stick it in a cone and serve it from a van.
When UFO fan Tom DeLonge was booted out of the band in January of last year – something to do with his spiralling multi-media empire getting in the way of Blink-182’s new album and touring plans – Matt Skiba seemed to be the perfect super-sub. He’s from the same scene, similar age, looks the part and – whisper it – the dark heart of Alkaline Trio might even inject a little bite into their songs.
Sure, watching their pixelated cock and balls flapping around on that video was funny for a few minutes before the turn of the millennium. And that expensive video parodying the boy bands of the day ensured they were pretty much glued to MTV before it started showing drunk Geordies smashing each other’s faces in.
But then something happened. Blink-182 grew up. They wanted to be serious. They put longer shorts on. Tom went off and did Boxcar Racer with Travis Barker, who in turn joined Tim Armstrong’s side-project Transplants.
They started making videos like The Cure and moped around like nobody’s business. They became family men and their pixelated cock and balls were resigned to a footnote in music history. Then came the indefinite hiatus.
Mark Hoppus and Barker released an album as +44 – named after the most exciting of things, an international dialling code – while DeLonge’s Angels And Airwaves promised “the greatest rock and roll revolution for this generation”, which we’re still waiting for. Unless forming a band, doomed to forever play U2 b-sides, was the revolution he envisaged. Hoppus produced bands like Motion City Soundtrack and spiked his hair in meaningful ways. It all felt like they were killing time until someone sighed a bashful half-apology and got the band back together, you know, for old times’ sake.
Their reunion only came about after Travis Barker recovered from a 2008 aeroplane crash which took the lives of four people.
From the outside, their reunion shows seemed strained, like estranged parents trying to get on at a children’s birthday party. But it appeared like they were already pulling in different directions when their Neighborhoods album was released three years later.
Sure, when they played live, they threw in some jokes about dog’s genitals and said unkind things about your mother. But it felt so contrived. On the right side of the stage stood DeLonge a man who clearly wanted to go off and ape Coldplay and publish books about science fiction. Barker just wanted to hit his drums and Mark continued to spike his hair in meaningful ways.
So when the second parting of ways came, this was a golden chance to breathe some life into Blink again, probably for an album or two before putting it to bed forever.
That’s why Bored To Death feels like such a misfire. They’d got John Feldmann on board to produce the thing. Sure, it ticks all the boxes of what a Blink song should sound like – picked guitar line, maudlin vocals, big chorus, arena chant dripping with woah and whatnot – but the reality of it is that it’s the same old, same old. It feels like it was recorded as an obligation and is a half-hearted middle finger to Tom DeLonge who’s already surrounded himself with a million vanity projects.
If Bored To Death is a way of easing their fanbase into the idea that mummy has a new boyfriend, then at a push, that makes sense. But if the whole album sounds like this, then what’s the point? It’s not like anyone is stuck for anything to do.